The Rundown: Cubs Whiff Against Brewers, 5-Game Set With Cards Starts Today, Kimbrel Looking Good
If you watched the Cubs this weekend, and I’m going to assume you probably did if you’re here, you are surely as exasperated as the rest of us who saw them struggle to make contact against Brewers pitching. Cubs batters struck out a whopping 16 times in yesterday’s 6-5 loss, and Milwaukee pitchers rung up 53 batters over four games. It doesn’t get much uglier than that.
The miracle of it all is that only five runs separated the two teams. By leaving 29 total runners stranded on the bases, those Cubs punchouts were all the more frustrating. Timely hitting, or just making occasional contact, can mean all the difference between winning and losing a series.
Maybe David Ross needs to put his hitters through some old-school contact drills. Thankfully, the Cubs only have three more games left with the Brewers. It remains troubling, however, that when the North Siders struggle offensively, it is usually a team-wide slump rather than just an individual player or two. Right now, Jason Kipnis is one of the few making consistent contact, and Ross lifted him for a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and two outs in Friday’s loss. Josh Phegley got the call and, naturally, he struck out.
.@TheJK_Kid ties it up with a two-out knock in the 6th! pic.twitter.com/6nEsO8KhjC
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 16, 2020
The Cardinals roll into town to play five games in three days, with seven-inning double headers today and Wednesday. That the Cubs are paying for the Cardinals’ inability to enforce coronavirus protocols is a big component of what is a truly crazy season. Despite a three-game losing streak, the 13-6 Cubs are the only NL Central team playing better than .500 baseball and they still hold a 3.5 game lead over the Cardinals (4-4) and Brewers (10-10).
If you are scoreboard watching, Milwaukee has an off day today before playing the Twins for four games, the first two in Minnesota.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs have placed Tyler Chatwood on the 10-day injured list due to a mid-to-lower back issue. Jason Adam was recalled from South Bend and Jharel Cotton was DFA’d to create the roster spot.
- Adam isn’t totally devoid of potential. Drafted in the fifth round out of high school in 2010 by the Royals, the journeyman reliever can hit mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball. He was 3-0 with four holds in 29 relief appearances with the Blue Jays last season.
- After dominant outings Friday and Sunday, Craig Kimbrel appears to have righted the ship somewhat. It remains to be seen if Ross is ready to put him in a position to protect a lead or close out a win.
- The Cubs blew 3-0 leads in the last two games of the series. They blew a 3-1 lead on Friday, too.
- Like the end of last season, and despite a rough outing in the first inning of his first start this year, Yu Darvish is pitching like the ace the front office imagined when they signed him in 2018.
- Kyle Hendricks is also off to a fine start, and he’ll pitch the opener of today’s twin bill. He’ll be opposed by Kwang-Hyun Kim. Ross has yet to name his starter for the second game.
- Darvish is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game, and Alec Mills will take the bump in one of the two Wednesday games. With Chatwood out and a crammed schedule, the rotation is slightly in flux right now.
- There is a chance Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty, who is recovering from the coronavirus, may get a start in one of Wednesday’s games.
- The Cubs-Cardinals series will test Chicago’s depth and resilience.
- The Cardinals will be the “home team” for two of the five games in the series.
Odds & Sods
Henderson Alvarez is pitching for the Independent League Milwaukee Milkmen, but he sure is determined to get back to the bigs.
Good night, I want you to know that the signing with the pirates did not materialize, I return to the independent league again, reasons why they signed another player, I'm still looking for a new opportunity and we're still here working hard @MKEMilkmen Good Return pic.twitter.com/0YxwklDXb8
— Henderson Alvarez (@HendersonA37) August 17, 2020
How About That!
With two weeks until baseball’s trade deadline, there aren’t many rumors to be found. Lance Lynn of the Rangers and Clint Frazier of the Yankees are generating some interest. Of course the Mariners are always open for business.
The Dodgers sit atop the week four MLB power rankings. The Cubs are sixth.
Yasiel Puig is somewhat shockingly still a free agent.
Rookie catcher Keibert Ruiz of the Dodgers hit a home run in his first big league at-bat.
ESPN announcer Álex Rodríguez compared Yankees first baseman Mike Ford to Babe Ruth in yesterday’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. That’s quite a stretch considering Ford is a career .246 hitter with a total of 14 home runs playing in his age-28 season. Ruth had 238 home runs at the same age.
Out of Left Field
I really don’t know what to make of this. I’m not a doctor, though.
New MLB Covid rule: players who test positive can apply to return to play in 10 days even if they continue to test positive (but still need MLB joint committee OK) and r very likely to be allowed back after 14 days even w/continuing positives. Reasoning: contagiousness dissipates
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 17, 2020
Sunday’s Three Stars
- White Sox Offense – Yoán Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez hit consecutive home runs during a six-run fifth inning, all coming against reliever Roel Ramirez. The rookie became the first pitcher in MLB history to give up four straight home runs in his major league debut.
- Stephen Piscotty – The Oakland right fielder was 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI in yesterday’s 15-3 win over the Giants. The A’s are the hottest team in baseball right now, and lead the AL West by 4.5 games over the Astros.
- Brewers Relievers – Led by Freddie Peralta, Corbin Burnes, and Josh Hader, as well as a generous strike zone, the Crew’s bullpen punched out eight Cubs hitters in yesterday’s win, and finished the series with 31 Ks in 17.1 innings of work.
Earmuff the kids!
The lack of a crowd have made for some awkward moments between the Nationals and umpires—with TV viewers catching every word. https://t.co/vcFbgclhgS
— NBCSports Washington (@NBCSWashington) August 17, 2020
They Said It
- “Yeah, Craig (Kimbrel) is throwing the ball well. It looks like the things that he’s done well over his career.” – David Ross
- “We care about those guys’ safety over there as part of the fraternity in baseball. But we don’t know what’s going on in that clubhouse or what they’re doing. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still this thing can happen. You just hope it doesn’t take down a whole ’nother team.” – Steven Souza Jr.
Monday Walk Up Song
Make it Go Away by Sheryl Crow – Anybody else happy to see the Brewers bullpen leave town?